September 29, 2013


So, I'm pretty much done with my cosplay for NYCC. YAY. I have to say, it's been pretty fun to flex my crafting muscles again. It's been so long since I did something crafty for the sake of crafting- especially something that doesn't involve food. I forgot what it was like to get into the zone; it's very zen. And there's something to be said about having paint- and glue-splattered fingers and not caring. I just wish I had more time for it. And a house elf to clean up after me.

Anyway, TARDIS dress is complete! Well, mostly. I might add a little something later on. But that's not important. If you can use tape and wield a paint brush, you too can make a TARDIS dress (or TARDIS anything else. I think more guys should dress up as the TARDIS. I've seen a couple really awesome male TARDIS cosplays). It's a bit involved, but not hard, not in the least.
You want to start with a blue dress. Any dress, although you want to stick with cotton or a cotton blend because that works best with fabric paint and iron on transfers. I gravitated towards the peplum style, because it just felt very architectural and TARDIS-y, but style doesn't really matter much. Anything comfortable (and as cheap as you can get is your best bet). I got this from Forever 21 for about $20.

First things first: always, always wash clothes before modding them. New clothes are treated with stain resistors that will also resist glues, paints, and dyes. I've actually used this to make some cool tie-dye patterns in the past, but that's not helping us here. Follow the directions on the tag, or when in doubt- wash on a gentle cycle with mild detergent.

Lay your clean and dry dress out on a flat surface. Put cardboard inside to prevent the paint bleeding through, then center the dress as best you can. Make sure all the seams are matched up. It'll prevent things from getting wibbley-wobbley.
Next is the most time consuming part: the taping. Just use regular blue painter's tape (I only had the really thick kind, so I had to cut it down and it was really annoying). Start by taping down the center of the dress. This will help you orient things.

Then, divide just the skirt into equal squares. The size of your squares is going to depend on the dress, and your own personal preference. I measured things out, tried the dress on, measured things while wearing the dress, took off the dress and measured some more. There's no such thing as too much measuring. Anyway, my final estimate was to have the squares be 8 inches, with an inch and half between them. Again, you might need to use different measurements. Measure, measure, measure.

Then tape inside the squares, leaving a half inch strip. That's the strip we're going to paint, so make sure to keep things even.

When all four squares are taped off, tape diagonally from corner to corner. I originally saw this tip here, and I loved it so much I had to try it myself. This is going to help give us panels with a more 3-D look.
Now's when the paint brush skills come into play. The first half of the panels, paint with a dark blue fabric paint (I used Navy, but just make sure it's significantly darker than your dress), then let that dry completely, about four hours. Move the tape so you can paint the bottom half of the panels.

Now, in the tutorial I linked above, she used a light blue paint for the bottom corners, but the light blue paint that I bought wasn't light enough and ended up blending into the fabric. But I had just so happened to pick up some blue glitter (extra fine, from Michaels. The color was Sapphire), thinking I could totally find someplace on the dress to use it. I certainly did.

Paint the panel with fabric or tacky glue like you did the paint. Cover completely with glitter. Allow to dry, then shake off the excess. Then seal in the glitter with glossy mod podge (any other will dull the glitter. I don't know about you, but I want my glitter to really shine. I learned this tip here). Let that dry until it's clear, and remove the painter's tape.
The panels came out really cool. They're hard to see in the full dress pictures, so here's some TARDIS panel eye candy for you. I'm kind of in love with these panels, okay?
Since I'm using a peplum style dress, I also had the top skirty part to do. Tape and paint the panels in the same way. For the pull to open sign, and the St. John's Ambulance medallion, I printed them on iron-on transfer paper, then ironed them onto adhesive-backed felt. You can iron them right onto the dress, but since the skirt has a flare, it's next to impossible to get the fabric completely flat (the panels got a bit wonky when I was painting them, but you can't really tell), and putting it on felt first just gave me a little added security. Just make sure to size them to fit inside the panels. Always print out a test first so you can see how it works, and measure, measure, measure.

The pull to open printable I used is here, and the St. John's Ambulance logo can be found here.
All we've got left are the windows. I used white adhesive backed felt. Just cut t down to squares the same size as your panels (mine were 8 inches). Then I outlined the windows with black glitter ribbon, because glitter, and separated the panes with thin black duct tape I found at Michaels. You can use more duct tape if you don't have glitter ribbon. This is the kind of stuff that I own.

And that's all there is to it. Remember, I already made the top hat, so I don't have to add the "Police Public Call Box" sign.
Sorry, no selfie this time. Because that would have involved changing out of my sweat pants. And my hair was a mess, and just no.

But did you know that there's actually a TARDIS dress commercially available for Halloween this year? And it's actually kind of awful. It's weird looking, and doesn't come with anything except the dress. Total gyp, in my opinion. Especially when it's so easy to make your own.